Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 20.3%; plus Canes fall 37-16 at Va-Tech for 3rd straight L; also, where Dolphins, Heat, Marlins, Panthers rank in ESPN 'Ultimate Standings,' NFL Week 7 pix, deconstructing Fins playoff drought & more
GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.
1) It is FRIDAY, OCTOBER 21. Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill challenges team, in wake of exhilarating surprise over Pittsburgh, to "show up like this every week." Click on Tannehill's Challenge to read my column. 2) Miami Herald's new book on Dolphins' first half century is now available -- just in time for the holidays! Click on Fins At 50 to learn more or to order through Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Pix 'n Fantasy Week 6 results, SOPY rankings, false nobility of the third-party candidate & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Vine, Periscope and Snapchat.
CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G7: 20.3%: Results are certified in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show a season-low 20.3 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Thursday's 37-16 loss at Virginia Tech putting UM's season record at 4-3 overall and 1-3 in the ACC. This the eighth season of our blog's CSM postgame polls, which are your invitation after every Hurricanes football game to vote on your overall satisfaction with the team and season in a continuing weekly gauge of how UM fans are feeling. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest you consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, the season as a whole, the program's direction and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 9 a.m. today/Saturday.
2016 Canesfan Satisfaction Meter
G1: 97.2% following 70-3 victory vs. Florida A&M
G2: 91.9% following 38-10 victory vs. Florida Atlantic
G3: 98.2% following 45-10 victory at Appalachian State
G4: 97.9% following 35-21 victory at Georgia Tech
G5: 58.3% following 20-19 loss vs. Florida State
G6: 24.0% following 20-13 loss vs. North Carolina
G7: 20.3% following 37-16 loss at Virginia Tech
Next poll: Oct. 29 following game at Notre Dame
PANTHERS ARE THE BIG SOUTH FLORIDA WINNERS IN 2016 ESPN ULTIMATE STANDINGS: Each year ESPN The Magazine ranks, top to bottom, the 122 teams in MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL to come up with its "Ultimate Standings," based on eight criteria: affordability, coaching, fan relations, ownership, players, stadium experience, title track and bang for the buck. It's inexact, but fun. Click here for the full rankings. Here is how Greater Miami's Big Four pro teams fared:
Panthers No. 7 -- Top 10 overall is a big deal, and that's up from No. 48 one year earlier. Florida is judged third among all NHL clubs.
Heat No. 53 -- That's a sharp drop from 21st overall last year. Miami is slotted a mid-pack 15th among NBA teams.
Marlins No. 91 -- It was No. 106 a year ago, so, progress, I guess. Fish are ranked 25th among baseball teams.
Dolphins No. 106 -- That's down from 92nd last year. And Miami is judged a lowly 26th among NFL franchises.
IT'S UPSET BIRD DAY / WEEK 7: OUR LATEST NFL PICKS: The big wheel keeps rollin'! It's our 26th season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the Miami Herald and one of our best so far. For our latest selections click on Week 7 Gems as myself and the Upset BIrd ("Aawwwk!") bring you our latest prediction capsules for Dolphins-Bills, our Game of the Week, Upset of the Week and more. Got off to a great start with Chicago-Green Bay last night, accurately predicting the Packers would cover a 7 1/2-point line; click Thursday Gem for that capsule. We're now a very, very good (almost surreal) 60-31-2 against the spread heading into Sunday's schedule. We also have our accompanying NFL notes column today that leads with a deconstruction of why the Dolphins suffer a playoff drought into its eighth season. I quantify two main areas (actually, three) where Miami has consistently fallen short. Click on (Not) Takin' Care Of Business to read.
G7: VIRGINIA TECH 37, HURRICANES 16: DREAMS OF REACHING ACC TITLE GAME CRUSHED IN BLACKSBURG: Final thoughts: Three weeks ago Miami was 4-0 and ranked No. 10 in nation. Now the Canes have lost a third straight conference game to make it 4-3 in a Thursday night loss that all but kills any chance of reaching the ACC championship game. Miami's injury-depleted defense was beaten for 525 yards by a balanced Va-Tech offense. The offense again struggled to reach the end zone despite Brad Kaaya's 323 yards passing in spite of his being sacked eight times ..... 4Q: Done. UM now down 37-16 after late Tech scoring run. That's a third staright loss for Miami, all but dooming any chance of reaching ACC title game ... Yearby busts a 41-yard run inside VT's 20 but it's wasted. UM misses narrowly on 4th-down end zone pass to Coley ... Big blocked FG for Miami to keep it a two-possession deficit ... Canes D drops an easy interception ..... 3Q: Tech up 30-16 on 3rd scoring pass of night given up by Miami's defense. Not good enough from Mario Diaz's injury-depleted unit tonight ... Boom! Just like that Kaaya-Herndon 35-yard hookup has Canes within 23-16 ... Hodges 12-yard scoring catch for 23-9 Va-Tech lead in series fueled by dumb personal foul against UM. Careful, Canes. This game could slip away fast. Miami needs TDs, not FGs ... What a defensive play by Quarterman for 11-yard loss on end around ..... Halftime thoughts: Huge series just before half has UM back in it, down 16-9. The two running games are the difference at this point. Va Tech has pummeled UM's defense for 112 ground yards and 5,.6 per carry, while Canes' usually productive ground game has 11 net yards on 17 carries. Richt has 201 air yards despite shaky protection. Miami's defense overall has not been terrible but the offense is struggling for the third straight game. Barring some magical halftime words from Mark Richt, UM is staring at a third straight defeat -- although that late score changed the feel ..... 2Q: Berrios 25-yard scoring pass from Kaaya just before has UM within 16-9 after missed kick. Huge series ... UM hole now 16-3 just before half on 38-yard Tech FG ... Tech 13-3 on 7-yard TD pass. Penalties, missed tackles bedeviling UM ... Tech adds another FG for 6-3 lead ... Kaaya is morphing into Ryan Tannehill (Kaayahill?), holding ball and taking sacks ... Kaaya throws into double coverage, is picked off on deflection ... Solid opening quarter for Canes, who should be up 7-3 ..... 1Q: Njoku wide-open for 48-yard pass play. Shoulda been TD but he tripped; Joe Nobody on the tackle. And UM settles for 29-yard FG to make it 3-3 ... Kaaya takes sack to remove UM from FG range. (Now Dolphins' Tannehill getting better protection and it's Canes O-line that looks weak) ... Va-Tech 3-0 but encouraging finish to series for a UM defense depleted by injuries, especially on line .....Original post: Both teams are 4-2 and unranked entering tonight's 7 o'clock game at Lane Stadium in Blacksburg, but UM has two conference losses to the Hokies' one. Plainly, while this is not literally must-win for Miami, it is all but must-win if the Canes are to have any reasonable chance to still reach the ACC Championship Game out of the Coastal division. More than that, though, puts most of the pressure on Miami tonight. This is the first game all season The U has been the betting underdog, with Va-Tech a 6-point favorite. Prime time in Blacksburg on ESPN also makes this the toughest stage on which Mark Richt's Canes have yet performed. Miami also will be missing two or three defensive starters, which could affect UM getting to a very good, dual-threat opposing QB, Jerod Evans, who has 17 TD passes and loves to run. Clearly the onus is on Miami, playing its third game in 13 days, to avoid a third straight conference loss. The best hope may be a big game from Brad Kaaya, whose offense has sputtered in losses to FSU and North Carolina that sent the Canes cascading from No. 10 in the nation to unranked. The potential for Kaaya is big tonight. Va-Tech's defense gave up 405 passing yards to a not-very-good Syracuse last week. The stakes feel like all-or-nothing tonight, a season-shaping extreme. A third straight conference loss would be demoralizing. A win would be the biggest thus far for the Richt Era and set things right. Bottom line for me? These are two pretty equal teams, and a UM upset victory would not surprise me even a little bit. But Blacksburg at night truly offers a home-field edge that could carry the night. My pick: Virginia Tech, 24-20.
Other state FBS Week 8 games, chronologically; all Saturday unless noted:
Temple 46, South Florida 30: Bulls were 7-point road favorites, but bad Friday night loss leaves them 6-2, poll hopes and AAC championship dreams hit hard.
UCF 24, UConn 16: Knights were 4-point road faves in this matinee and took care of biz, improving to 4-3.
Louisiana Tech 44, FIU 24: Panthers had won three straight under Ron Cooper since coaching change, but La-Tech was a 16 1/2-point road favorite and showed why.
Off this week:
No. 13 Florida State (5-2), next vs. No. 4 Clemson.
No. 15 Florida (5-1), next vs. Georgia.
FAU (1-6), next vs. Western Kentucky.
National Collball Week 8 overview: College Football Playoff's current alignment seemed safe for another week, but wasn't. While No. 1 Alabama took care of business and turned back No. 6 Texas A&M 33-14, No. 2 Ohio State lost a stunner at Penn State 24-21.
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